London – Turning into a meditation app to help calm your mind may be the fashionable thing to do. But it seems just listening to birds singing in the woods is a better way to relax.
People who were played birdsong from woodlands were more likely to become relaxed than those who used an app to meditate, a study has found.
Researchers split the 600 participants into three equal groups, exposing 200 to birdsong, 200 to a meditation app, and leaving the rest in silence.
Each group was asked before the one-minute activity if they felt relaxed, stressed or anxious, then asked again afterwards.
Of the group who listened to bird noises, 30 percent said they were relaxed beforehand. But this rose to 39 percent after the woodland sounds. The birdsong seemed to work better than the meditation app, which did not raise the proportion of relaxed people.
Dr Eleanor Ratcliffe, an environmental psychology lecturer at the University of Surrey, said: “There is a large body of scientific evidence demonstrating that experience of nature can benefit health and wellbeing, including recovery from everyday psychological stress.”
The study, by market research firm Walnut Unlimited and the National Trust, also found lower rates of stress and anxiety in people who listened to woodland sounds, but the meditation app worked better.
The proportion of anxious people fell 19 percent for those played birdsong, but fell 47 percent for the meditation group. Those in silence saw a fall of 23 percent in reported anxiety. The rate of stressed people also fell 24 percent in the birdsong group, but by 39 percent among those in the meditation group.
The Woodland Trust says walks in the woods could help the one in four people at risk of mental health problems. The National Trust’s Patrick Begg said: “Sometimes a simple walk in woodlands… is the perfect remedy for stress